I recently attended the 2011 Social Finance Forum, organized by the newly minted MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. A worthy event, to be sure, it provided me with much to ponder while offering a fascinating snapshot of this at-times-dynamic-at-other-times-stagnant social finance space.
Note: Originally posted at SEE Change Magazine.
With titles, accolades and commitments as seemingly boundless as the 57-year-old’s energy level, Joel Solomon is a visionary, activist, mentor and investor rolled into one. I’m not sure when he finds time to sleep but here’s the current list of involvements: Board chair of Hollyhock, president of Renewal Partners, Chairman of Renewal2 Investment Fund, entrepreneur-in residence at RSF Social Finance in San Francisco and at Vancouver’s Vancity, volunteer board member of Tides Canada and Tides Foundation in the US. And let’s not forget his involvement in civic politics as an adviser and supporter of Vancouver’s green-hued mayor, Gregor Robertson.
There’s a movement underfoot. A call to action to establish a separate legal structure for social enterprise in Canada. And, like many issues in this cozy world we inhabit, the quest is challenging, dare I even say divisive. “What’s that?” you ask incredulously. “An issue upon which this community disagrees?” Indeed. [insert sarcastic retort here].
First a caveat: My goal is to provide an overview of a topic growing in significance, offer intellectual food for thought, stir up some debate, and encourage discussion - in 1200 words or less. Thankfully, individuals way smarter and knowledgeable than I have spent many months researching the legal complexities involved. So, with a huge sigh of relief I respectfully direct you to the links on the following site for a more thorough examination of this issue. www.centreforsocialenterprise.com
It’s true what they say; new projects are daunting, anxiety-provoking and pull-your-hair-out-exhausting. But here’s another truism: they’re as thrilling as it comes. Each new initiative involves the setting of fresh expectations, self-prescribed milestones and goals. And let’s not forget those dreams. Launching an enterprise is any dreamcatcher’s inspirational fodder.
As founders of Canada’s first publication for and about social enterprise and entrepreneurship, we’re not unlike any other social entrepreneur in that we’re dreaming big. And we hope you are too.
With Paul Martin's announcement of a new $50 million fund for Aboriginal social enterprise, more attention is being paid to the role that social enterprises may have in contributing to a better world, particularly for Canada's Aboriginal people.
Find out about award-winning Aboriginal social enterprise programs across Canada, how they are helping their communities, and what the future holds for this unique way of doing business.
A sustainable approach to managing money that delivers social, environmental and economic benefits, social finance has achieved the status of buzzword in the nonprofit sector of late. And we all know what that means: confusion. Okay, it means more than that, but ask a nonprofit today how social finance can help achieve its mission and responses will range from a Google search to praising it as a panacea, neither of which are helpful when trying to engage in practical dialogue.
One of the fastest growing sectors in North America, there are close to 150,000 registered charities and nonprofits currently operating in Canada and their impact is undeniable.
For far too many organizations, however, social finance remains out of reach – whether due to lack of information or other obstacles. Not that social finance is the answer for all; far from it. But take a growing nonprofit sector, add an ever-competitive marketplace and mix it with the shrinking capacity of government to meet social needs and fund providers trying to do the same, and you’ve got yourself a good argument for why it may be worth a shot.